Burnished Bronze & Jewel Tones: November Light in the Garden . . .

November 7th, 2013 § Comments Off on Burnished Bronze & Jewel Tones: November Light in the Garden . . . § permalink

Secret Garden in Late October - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Stepping into Late Autumn, Through the Secret Garden Door

Jack Frost arrived a bit late to the garden this year, and so far, he’s breezed through only lightly. Though the calendar says it’s November, Black-eyed Susan and her pretty, pink Wind-Flower companions have thus far eluded his fatal kiss. The maples have all shed their leaves, but oak, beech and poplar trees continue to add confetti dots of color to the hills. Here in the garden, the ornamental grasses reign supreme, but Korean Dogwood (Cornus kousa) and Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum), as well as many Viburnum, Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), Witch Alder (Fothergilla), and other species hold tight to pretty red-orange foliage and brightly colored berries. Still, I remind myself daily to savor this last great wave of color. Days are getting shorter and nights are getting colder. Soon the garden and surrounding forest will stand naked, shivering in white, winter bones.

Before the November Wind - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com  A Garden Trio of Cranberrybush Viburnum, Maiden Grass and Limelight Hydrangea Vie with Blushing Sunset for an Autumn Evening Spotlight

Miscanthus sinensis in the Entry Garden - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comJPG And Rounding the Corner on the Opposite Side, Creeping Blue-Rug Juinper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’), Striped Eulalia Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’) and Variegated Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana ‘Variegatus’), Add Complimentary Color and Textural Contrast to the Fiery Hues

Switch Grass Turns Gold (Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal') - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com The Autumnal Gold of Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’) Plays Pretty Against the Maroon Backdrop of Diablo Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’)

Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst' with Rudbeckia hirta and Amsonia hubrichtii - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Issai’) and Hubricht’s Amsonia (Amsonia hubrichtii) Shine Bright as the Sun’s Afterglow 

Callicarpa-dichotoma-with-Cotinus-coggygria-and-Miscanthus Early Amethyst Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’) with Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’) and Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides), in the Entry Garden Walk

Moody Morning in the Autumn Garden Miscanthus sinensis cultivars - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Striped Eulalia Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’) with Flame Grass (Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens) on a Dramatic, November Day

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln' in autumn - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) Tufts Lend an Air of Soft Warmth to a Cold, Autumn Day 

Secret Garden Door and Water Bowl in November (Acer palmatum x dissectum 'Seiryu')- michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com The Blue-Green Dragon (Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’) Breathes Fire at the Secret Garden Door on a November Day

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Midnight Maroon: Dark, Mysterious Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’…

August 13th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

When you’re strange, no one remembers your name – Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’

Oxblood, maroon, deep violet and ebony; dark plants are one of my greatest horticultural passions. From the statuesque Cimicifuga racemosa ‘Hillside Black Beauty’ gracing my Secret Garden, to the massive, dark cloud of Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’ forming a shadowy hedge at the back of my perennial borders, I wholeheartedly embrace the gothic beauty of black foliage. Earlier this year, in my posts, “A Heart of Darkness” and  “The Gothic Gourmet: Black Beauties and Dark Delights of the Potager”, I revealed a bit about my obsessive preoccupation with these strangely curious and hauntingly beautiful plants. But you needn’t be Edward Gorey to appreciate the darker side of horticulture. Deep, rich hues are incredibly useful in garden design; offering a counter-point to subtle silver and sophisticated chartreuse, as well as a striking contrast to variegated foliage and boldly colored flowers. Dark, elegant plants enrich a garden’s beauty  in much the same way as late afternoon shadows enhance a sun-drenched landscape. Think of them as the minor chords in your favorite song…

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’ at the back of my casual, mixed meadow border in August

One of my favorite native plant cultivars, Physocarpus opufolius ‘Diablo’, (as well as cultivars ‘Center Glow’ and ‘Summer Wine’) is just such an endlessly versatile plant. Stunning as a single specimen within a mixed border, I like to take the drama up a notch in larger gardens, combining this burgundy-leafed shrub in groups of three or more to form a dark and mysterious backdrop for other plants (particularly gold and chartreuse-leaved specimens, as well as those with variegated foliage). Perennials in shades of blue, violet, gold, magenta —as well as many other bold and subtle colors— stand out against the intense, maroon-leafed ‘Diablo’. One of my favorite, striking garden combinations plays the nearly black color of Physocarpus opufolius ‘Diablo’ against the feathery, chartreuse leaves of Sambucus racemosa ‘Sutherland Gold‘ (Golden elderberry).

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’ forms a soft, dark cloud at the edge of my terrace

Physocarpus opulifolius (also known as common ninebark) is an extremely hardy shrub (USDA zones 2-8) native to North America. The dark, burgundy-leafed cultivar ‘Diablo’ (sometimes listed as ‘Monlo’ or ‘Diabolo’) will reach a height of 6-10 feet, with a similar spread. Physocarpus opulifolius presents a graceful, upright-vase shape in the garden, with softly arching branches. Adaptable to many garden situations, ‘Diablo’ offers dramatically dark foliage throughout the growing season, burnished shades of rust to bronze in autumn, and textural, peeling bark in winter. The pinkish white blossoms appear in late spring, and are a favorite, natural food source for honeybees and butterflies. Later in the season, as the tiny red fruits ripen —strangely beautiful against the dark foliage— common ninebark becomes a living feeding station for birds and small mammals. Physocarpus prefers even moisture and neutral, well-drained soil. This native cultivar is an easy to please, disease and pest resistant plant suitable for sun to partial shade (if worms/caterpillars become a problem in late spring, defoliating branches, treat the leaves with OMRI approved Btk only as necessary).

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’ Leaf and Stem Coloration

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’s’ Beautiful, Peeling Bark

Autumn Color Variation Ranges from Oxblood Red

To Sun-Burnished Bronze…

In addition to its striking presence in the garden, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’s’ leaves and branches add sophisticated beauty to floral arrangements. When combined with citrus-colored flowers —such as the Bells of Ireland shown below in a vase by raku artist Richard Foye— ‘Diablo’ is a real knock-out. The sturdy stems also offer excellent support for more delicate flora, and a lovely vertical compliment to blowzy hydrangea blossoms — Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ is especially lovely with the maroon leaves of ‘Diablo’.

A vase by Richard Foye, filled with Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo, Bells of Ireland, Baptisia foliage, Queen Anne’s Lace and Apricot- Hued Foxglove

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Article and photographs © 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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